Barkingside barrister helps rebuild the lives of orphaned children after Pakistan earthquake

Sheikh Hussain with some of the children he works with. Picture: Children First

Sheikh Hussain with some of the children he works with. Picture: Children First - Credit: Archant

A dedicated rescue worker has helped save the lives of hundreds of orphaned children in Pakistan and says there is still work to be done.

Sheikh Hussain has been helping to rebuild the lives of orphaned children in Pakistan, since the 200

Sheikh Hussain has been helping to rebuild the lives of orphaned children in Pakistan, since the 2005 earthquake. - Credit: Archant

Barrister Sheikh Hussain, 45, of Barkingside, has devoted his life to helping disadvantaged children in remote areas of Pakistan after setting up the Children First International charity in 1995.

Following an earthquake in 2005 Mr Hussain went to Pakistan to help with the rescue effort and has set up two orphanages for children affected by the disaster. The quake, which registered at a magnitude of 7.6, killed about 100,000 people in the month of Ramadan.

Mr Hussain said: “Seven story hotels sunk into the ground and we actually dug people out.

“Work is continuing, it’s not something you can stop.”

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He added: “It’s improved but there still needs to be a lot of work done. I have been there a number of times, they’re still in the process of recovering from it.”

Besides the orphanages Mr Hussain visits the country regularly to provide food, shelter and education to the young people.

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Mr Hussain said: “We have nearly 200 children and it’s still growing. The children we sponsor and look after receive clean water, food and shelter – they get schooling and they get life skills.”

The charity founder, who aims to add 20 per cent of his own money on top of public donations, feels that a cycle of corruption has meant that children who are in desperate need of bare essentials are left to go without.

“Whereever there is poverty, there is corruption,” he said.

Children First has been embarking on projects to help the orphaned children to become “self-sufficient”, with sustainable food sources and water wells being set up.

Mr Hussain, who will take up issues with the Pakistani government on his visit, said: “If you educate the society, they will become more aware.”

The orphanages set up by the charity are in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, and Attock in the Punjab.

The charity worker said: “My life is devoted to this cause, I’m not really interested in what happens to me here, whether I have food on the table or not.”

Children First has also been working with 23 schools to help provide clean water, chairs, tables and heating for the cold Kashmiri winter months.

Mr Hussain, a practising Muslim, said of the children’s situation: “It’s enormously painful, I cried constantly – it’s enormously emotional and you question the creator, as to why there is so much injustice in this world.”

The charity has also helped during the 2010 floods in Pakistan, and with relief efforts in Sudan, Somalia and Palestine.

“I’m requesting people in this very special month of Ramadan to please think about the children when you have a feast. Think about the children that don’t have food to eat, have a heart and contribute what you can.”

Call 079 1985 8786 to donate or volunteer with the charity.

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